Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Psi Wars: Empowering Artifacts in Play

Last time, I looked at how to assign point values to Psi Wars artifacts on the basis of their age and significance. A player may look at the Recent Events modifier and say, "Hey! I'm part of recent events! Can I say that one of my things is an artifact?"

To which I say: Sure! If you've bought the item in question as Signature Gear and buy the perk "Relic of Communion", then it can have up to 2 points of powers, no questions asked. Since a player character is by definition a Major Free Agent, their possessions have a base value of 4 points, modified by 1/2 for being part of recent events.

This represents the beginnings of a player character's legend, and the investment of power by a Communion that is just now taking an interest in their deeds. Which form of Communion powers their artifact is up to the player to decide, though be warned that artifacts of Broken Communion are always corrupting!


Now, what if players want to increase the power of their artifacts? Two possibilities are using the rules for Named Possessions from GURPS Fantasy or enchantment in GURPS Thaumatology. Unfortunately, I don't have either book myself, so I can't comment on how useful they would be.

What I do have is the concept of milestones from Mailanka's Building Paths post. These are significant events that represent important parts of an archetype's legend, and after achieving one, the character can investment more points in path-related abilities. Extending the concept to player created artifacts, a milestone is an event that reinforces the object's legend.

The question then becomes: What qualifies as a milestone? The paths have examples already given, but what's a suitable milestone for the scavenger's favorite pistol that they've modified time and again over the years? To judge whether an event qualifies, use the following criteria:

  1. Is the event significant?
  2. Does the event fit with the character's concept and story?
  3. Is the artifact's presence important to the outcome?

If it's something that people will be telling stories about for years or generations to come, then the answer to the first question is yes. For the second, a character using their template's abilities to accomplish a major plot point in a way consistent with their personality and stated goals counts. For the last question, the artifact's role may be active or passive, but either way, it must have meaningfully contributed to the outcome.

To continue the example of the scavenger, using their pistol all the time doesn't count as a milestone, since that's not what people will tell stories about. Using it in a climactic duel with the marshal who's been hounding them for years, resolving the conflict once and for all? That definitely counts!

For another example, a spy may have a necklace handed down from her mother. If she was wearing it as she charmed her way into gaining access to Imperial archives and then stealing the blueprints for an Imperial superweapon, that would count as a milestone for the artifact.

The effects of a milestone are several. First, the player may spend character points up to half the artifact's base value per milestone achieved to improve its abilities, to a maximum of twice the artifact's base value. Second, if the milestone impacts events on a planetary level or greater, it may increase the base value of the artifact accordingly. Third, if the milestone belongs to a path and the artifact is part of the character's regalia, then the artifact becomes aligned to the path and the player may spend an extra 2 points.

So, after their duel with the marshal, the scavenger can spend 2 points to improve the powers of their pistol, since the event was primarily of personal significance. Our spy, on the other hand, has taken part in events that have ramifications for at least an entire planet! Accordingly, the base value of her necklace rises to 6 points, and she may spend 3 points on its abilities.

The intent of these rules is that after three milestones, an artifact can be considered to be of historical significance, and so can have abilities worth up to twice its base value. Those will also be more significant to the player, since they earned them through play and the artifact is specifically suited for their character.

A final note: at the GM’s option, the character points spent on artifacts can be given as a bonus for the session in which the milestone is achieved. This allows them to be much more immediately impactful, without having to worry about whether you have enough points saved up to take advantage of it.

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